The goalless draw between Uruguay and France in Group A of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ left respective coaches Oscar Tabarez and Raymond Domenech happier than most. Having seen their players carry out their safety-first instructions to perfection, both could take at least some satisfaction from a game that yielded little goalmouth action and in which the men at the back outshone the forwards.
"We would have preferred to have won but Uruguay are a very solid and defensively well-organised team," said Florent Malouda, who saw those qualities for himself after coming on as a second-half substitute. His team-mate Bacary Sagna offered the following explanation of why goals were in short supply in Cape Town, saying: "We were well organised and we didn't want to waste our chances of winning the game by just throwing everything into attack. Goals were all that was missing and at least we know which areas we have to work on."
Relegated to the bench, Malouda had a point to prove when introduced late on and he almost broke the deadlock with a drive that fizzed past the post. "There weren't many risks being taken out there," said the Chelsea midfielder. "The focus was really on tactical discipline and maybe we lacked that little touch of flamboyance and imagination that might have tipped the scales in our favour."
Reduced to ten men following the late dismissal of Nicolas Lodeiro, Uruguay had every reason to be content with their hard-earned point, though there was a hint of frustration in coach Oscar Tabarez’s post-match views. "Given the situation and the fact we were up against the 2006 runners-up, we can be happy with the result, although I wouldn't say that France deserved to win. We controlled them and they never really troubled us," he said.
As far as Charrúa defender Perez was concerned, the main reason for the dearth of clear-cut opportunities was the pressure of the occasion. "It was our opening game in the World Cup and there's a lot of pressure on such occasions," he said. "Teams are always looking to minimise risks in tournaments as big as this. We know this is going to be a very closely fought group and nothing that's happened so far has made us believe otherwise." He added: "France are a great team. They have always produced great defenders and they have more World Cup experience than we do."
“We did everything we could to score but we also tried to make sure we didn't concede," was France coach Raymond Domenech's verdict on the game, an indication of the tactical problems posed by such a tight encounter. The spectacle revived memories of the sides' stalemate when they met in the group phase at Korea/Japan 2002. It did not come as a great surprise, however, considering France also kicked off their campaigns at Germany 2006 and UEFA EURO 2008 with goalless draws, two tournaments that unfolded in very different ways for the French. "I don't know if it's a good thing, but I'd love this competition to turn out like 2006," concluded Malouda, looking forward to a brighter future for Les Bleus.